Roundup: COVID hits record high — 160 StFX students infected, Pictou Co. internet upgrades begin, South Shore Sexual Health earns national award

Plus: Dean Jobb looks back at P.T. Barnum’s connection to an infamous Halifax bank heist

Nova Scotia hit a new COVID-19 record yesterday, with health officials reporting 287 new cases, the province’s biggest one-day jump of the pandemic. Of the new cases, 191 are in the Central Zone, 57 in the Eastern, 24 in the Northern and 15 in the Western. The provincial government hasn’t released a count of total active cases in a week, citing a data entry backlog.

Investigators have traced the province’s unfolding outbreak to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, where officials say 160 students have tested positive for COVID-19. The university has stayed open for in-person classes and events throughout the pandemic, but administrators are reconsidering that stance.

“I believe this will be the beginning of many conversations in the weeks ahead as public health determines what health and safety protocols will be required to be in place in the new year,” president Andy Hakin says in a Facebook post. “Our academic leadership team continues to work through what the beginning of the winter academic term is going to look like as we incorporate an exam period into the term.” Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Tim Houston. Photo: CNS

Health officials also announced nine more school exposures yesterday, including Astral Drive Junior High in Cole Harbour and Atlantic Memorial Terence Bay Elementary in Shad Bay.

Amid the worsening outbreak, there is a bright spot: government continues to report just six people hospitalized with the disease (including two in ICU), which suggests that most of the infected aren’t becoming seriously ill.

Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang are scheduled to webcast an update today at 2 p.m.

Pictou County internet work begins
The Municipality of Pictou County has begun work on an ambitious project to improve the speed and reliability of internet service in the area.

The goal is to provide two-thirds of the county’s homes with access to fibre, with the remainder using wireless service. Depending on location, some may have the option of both fibre and wireless services.

The goal is about 20 tower sites, with 13 already being approved and four more proposed. Officials say top wireless speeds will reach 50 Mbps, on par with what residents get in urban areas, with 1,123 km of fibre installed.

Raissa Tetanish reports for The Pictou Advocate.

South Shore Sexual Health earns national award
Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights, a charity aiming to advance and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights around the world, recently picked the South Shore Sexual Health centre in Bridgewater for its Helen and Fred Bentley Award of Excellence.

The plaudit, which includes a $9,000 prize, comes for the centre’s TransFORMATION Closet program, which offers gender-affirming clothing and accessories to people in Lunenburg and Queens counties, regions without stores catering to clients’ unique needs.

As with many charities, COVID upended operations, but workers adapted quickly.

“(COVID) kind of threw us for a loop because, of course, part of the plan was for people to come and try on (clothing),” says executive director Julie Veinot. “But it also worked well because a lot of our clientele are youths who don’t have cars so having that ability to be flexible and use delivery or outreach kind of became really important.”

Gayle Wilson has the story for LighthouseNow.

Three-ring robbery
Dean Jobb’s recent book Daring, Devious & Deadly: True Tales of Crime and Justice from Nova Scotia’s Past (published in September by Pottersfield Press), is jammed with stranger-than-fiction stories from the province’s oft-untold history.

One of the most bizarre tales involves the broad-daylight theft of thousands from a Halifax bank, with the help of an inadvertent diversion by famed circus promoter P.T. Barnum. In this excerpt (originally posted in September), Unravel Halifax travels in time to 1876.

For background on the book, see Jobb’s interview with Unravel Halifax.

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